Social networking websites allow individuals, businesses and other organizations to interact with one another and build relationships and communities online. When companies join these social channels, consumers can interact with them directly. That interaction can be more personal to users than traditional methods of outbound marketing and advertising.
Social networking sites act as word of mouth or more precisely, e-word of mouth. Social networking sites and blogs allow followers to "retweet" or "repost" comments made by others about a product being promoted, By repeating the message, the user's connections are able to see the message, therefore reaching more people. Because the information about the product is being put out there and is getting repeated, more traffic is brought to the product/company.
Social networking websites are based on building virtual communities that allow consumers to express their needs, wants and values, online. Social media marketing then connects these consumers and audiences to businesses that share the same needs, wants, and values. Through social networking sites, companies can keep in touch with individual followers. This personal interaction can instill a feeling of loyalty into followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very narrow target audience.
Social networking sites also include much information about what products and services prospective clients might be interested in. Through the use of new semantic analysis technologies, marketers can detect buying signals, such as content shared by people and questions posted online. An understanding of buying signals can help sales people target relevant prospects and marketers run micro-targeted campaigns.
Some examples of popular social networking websites over the years are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, LinkedIn, and SnapChat. There are two basic strategies for using social media as a marketing tool:
Social media can be a useful source of market information and a way to hear customer perspectives. Blogs, content communities, and forums are platforms where individuals share their reviews and recommendations of brands, products, and services. Businesses are able to tap and analyze the customer voices and feedback generated in social media for marketing purposes; in this sense the social media is a relatively inexpensive source of market intelligence which can be used by marketers and managers to track and respond to consumer-identified problems and detect market opportunities.
Unlike traditional market research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and data mining which are time-consuming and costly, and which take weeks or even months to analyze, marketers can use social media to obtain 'live' or "real time" information about consumer behavior and viewpoints on a company's brand or products. This can be useful in the highly dynamic, competitive, fast-paced and global marketplace of the 2020s.
Social media can be used not only as public relations and direct marketing tools, but also as communication channels targeting very specific audiences with social media influencers and social media personalities as effective customer engagement tools. This tactic is widely known as influencer marketing. Influencer marketing allows brands the opportunity to reach their target audience in a more genuine, authentic way via a special group of selected influencers advertising their product or service.
Social networks are, in many cases, viewed as a great tool for avoiding costly market research. They are known for providing a short, fast, and direct way to reach an audience through a person who is widely known.
Facebook and LinkedIn are leading social media platforms where users can hyper-target their ads. Hypertargeting not only uses public profile information but also information users submit but hide from others. There are several examples of firms initiating some form of online dialog with the public to foster relations with customers.
One social media platform that has used this ground-changing strategy is TikTok. which has become one of the fastest growing applications to date and currently has around 1.5 billion users. The algorithm used within this platform encourages creativity among users because of the platform's wide range of effects and challenges that change from day to day. Increased chances of going viral by appearing on The "for you" page allows users to have videos recommended to them based on their previous watches, likes and shares.
Traditional media gave control of message to the marketer, whereas social media shifts the balance to the consumer or citizen.